Out to Bid! - LEED Platinum Home Progress Report

August 20, 2010


Though the Zoning Board has been a huge distraction, drawings are ready to go out to bid.

We have 4 contractors bidding this job. Truly 2 of them are our focus (because they are the super green builders in our area) but we are all willing to be won over.

Let’s call the 4 contractors A,B,C and D.  A and B are the favorites.

Contractor A has known the clients for a few years. They are a husband and wife team in their early 30’s and they happen to also own a green building supply and green products retail store. The clients have been shopping there for years. It seems like a no brainer to go with this team but there are some minor hesitations- they are a small, young outfit. They are extremely honest and earnest but perhaps they do not have the super professional polish or the trusted established-ness of a bigger, older firm. Otherwise they are a shoe-in.

Contractor B are brothers in their 50’s, very established as the most experienced green builders in Fairfield County. They are also extremely honest and well intentioned. They have a great track record and are very trusted. The fears with them are that they may cost more and also that they may lean more toward energy efficiency and less toward ‘house-health’. This is a very big issue for the client. The green building world in general does lean heavily towards energy efficiency health usually takes a back seat. The clients care more about the health aspects of the house than the energy efficiency. They do care about both, but health needs to be primary.

Contractors C and D are ‘normal’ contractors. They are in the mix as a cost check. They are there to make the cost upgrades for going green a bit more transparent.

There is always the fear that a green contractor will be more expensive - partially because the work they do could come at a premium and partially  because they are more of a specialty contractor. My experience is the opposite. I have found that for the most part green builders – true green builders -  are a very honest and conscientious bunch and their prices are often way more fair and straight forward than many ‘normal’ contractors. Also if you are truly building green and know what you are doing there are many places to actually make the construction less expensive than normal construction. So I have never had the experience of a truly green contractor giving a high bid. Usually they are middle of the pack and that is correct because usually that is the actual price.

Yes, some green building features come at a premium, but then again so do some normal kitchen countertops and appliances,etc, etc. One of the favorite lines a contractor friend of mine uses when asked what the pay back time on that green 'insulation, solar panel, water collection system, green counter top, fill in the blank' is, is this: He simply responds 'What's the payback time on your 'granite counter top, giant HD TV, Maserati, SubZero wine fridge, second master bath because you can't share, fill in the blank'. : )